July 6, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini.  Young sablefish studied. I’ll tell you how after this…
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“Our overall purpose is to record the fine scale movements and habitat use of Sablefishjuvenile sablefish in order to gain a better understanding of  their early life history stage.” 
 Student Rhea Ehersmann at UAF’s school of fisheries and ocean sciences is conducting this study as part of her masters’ project, with the help of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Sitka.
“This data may provide researchers and management with more information for understanding recruitment into commercial fisheries. It could also give us information about how these juvenile sablefish are utilizing space within the bay, as well as incorporating seasonal prey like herring and salmon into their diets.”
She is gathering her research just 20 miles northwest of Sitka in St Johns Baptist Bay. The bay has been used by NOAA for sablefish research in the past; between 1985 to 1991.
“It consisted of 131 surveys at 74 sites all across southeast Alaska. The researchers found that St Johns Baptist bay was the only sample site where juvenile sablefish were consistently abundant. So with that information and the fact that the bay is close to Sitka, and that it’s fairly protected.We feel like it is a great study site for this project.”
Ehresmann and her team have placed acoustic transmitters inside the fish, but it’s the 8 receivers tied to mooring buoys 12 feet off the bottom of the bay that are tracking the sablefish.
“The receivers are doing all of the data collecting. The tags in the fish are just transmitting pings every 30 to 90 seconds. And these receivers are what’s storing and collecting all of the data for us. So they are extremely important for the study.”
The buoys are located from the mouth to the head of the bay and could get tangled or anchored.  Ehresmann urges people to be aware.
“We are asking fishermen to be on the lookout for these set-ups, while they are actively fishing or anchoring.  We also want them to be on the watch for some exciting research results over the next two years.”
If one of the receivers does happen to be caught they ask that you return it to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Sitka. The gear will remain in the bay till this fall.
“This study is really going to shed some light on what they are doing in these near shore bays and why they are residing there, and why St Johns Baptist Bay is such a unique bay for young sablefish.”    
 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com   In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.